Officer involved in rescue has St. C. roots

Officer Randall Lyons

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus police officer who made a heroic effort to rescue a child last week is a familiar face to many in Belmont County.

On Monday, Columbus police Officers Randall Lyons and Deb Paxton responded to a a call regarding a young boy who had fallen through ice into a frozen pond. Acting quickly in an effort to help the child, Lyons tied a rope to his waist and attempted to reach the boy, 6-year-old Merlin St. Germain.

The officer’s weight was too much for the ice, though, and he also fell into the pond. Even immersed in the icy water, Lyons tried to swim out to the child, but the weight of his clothes and boots and the temperature of the water caused Paxton to instead pull Lyons to safety. The frigid water and exertion caused Lyons to briefly black out.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and managed to get St. Germain to safety. They then transported both St. Germain and Lyons to a local hospital to recover from hypothermia.

According to information released by the Columbus Division of Police, St. Germain was in critical condition after the ordeal while Lyons was in stable condition.

Lyons is a 21-year veteran of the police department and a 1989 graduate of St. Clairsville High School. He grew up in the local area before moving to Columbus. Speaking from a hospital bed in a video released by the Columbus Division of Police, Lyons said that even though his actions at the pond placed him at risk, he believes he was just doing his duty.

“I don’t really consider myself to be a hero,” Lyons said. “But would I do it again? Absolutely.”

One of Lyons’ former high school coaches said he wasn’t surprised to hear that his past student was involved in such a brave line of work. Kelly Rine, athletic director for St. Clairsville-Richland City School District, remembers coaching Lyons when he was a freshman playing football for the Red Devils. Rine said Lyons was a “top-notch person, just a high-character individual.”

“He came from a quality family, and he was a really good athlete and a really good person,” Rine said of the police officer. “He was a guy that was very well liked in school, just that type of personality that you’d gravitate to.”

Rine added that although he hasn’t had contact with Lyons for several years, it doesn’t surprise him to hear that Lyons would risk himself to help another.

Sgt. David Worthington, a public information officer for the Columbus Police Department, said Lyons has been released from the hospital and is back on active duty with the department and is declining interviews regarding the incident. Worthington said that while the department isn’t keeping tabs on St. Germain’s condition, the department is aware that the boy is still in the hospital and is still alive. He added that the department as a whole is proud of Lyons and his brave actions.

“We’re just glad it turned out the way that it did for Officer Lyons, and that he’s safe and recovering from the incident,” Worthington said. “We’re proud of all the officers and fire personnel that responded.”